Am I wasting my money on an Authors Guild?
I’ve been a part of a number of author guilds/writer’s organizations at this point. I’ve tried IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association), and long ago the IWWG (International Women Writers Guild) and the Historical Novel Society. My experiences with each of these organizations and the benefits they offer members has varied dramatically. So overall, is joining an authors guild worth it?
My answer is- it depends. 1. I think it depends on what your goals are in doing so. Where are you in your author journey? What support are you looking to get? And 2. Have you done your homework? I can attest to the fact that there are an overwhelming number of guilds and support organizations out there. Some of them are more reputable than others. Others might be reputable, but just have more to offer than others. So, how do you choose?
Identify Your Needs
Different guilds have different focuses. Are you looking to improve your craft? Some organizations focus on retreats and learning sessions on craft based elements. Are you further along in the process and looking for more help with publication and marketing? There are organizations specializing in those elements as well. It’s also important to discern how you plan to publish. Are you aiming for traditional publishing or do you plan to publish independently? The answers to these questions will help you sift through the offerings to find the guild or support organization that might best serve your individual needs.
Peruse Authors Guilds based off YOUR needs
Who are you hoping to meet? You’ve hopefully determined your individual writing goals at this point. Now, it’s important to build your support network. Are you looking to meet other writers in your particular genre? If so, finding a guild that focuses on a particular niche genre could be helpful. For example, this was my reasoning when I joined the Historical Novel Society and SCBWI.
If you’ve determined a particular path to publishing that interests you, that could also impact your search. I knew I wanted to self-publish, so I wanted a guild that would help me with that. I joined IBPA to offer me benefits and discounts with the process and also advice through their podcasts and blog posts.
Give their offerings a cash value objectively
Here is where I made some mistakes and what I hope to pass on to you, my dear readers. Look for the return on your investment from the guild. What are you getting by joining? Is it worth the bang for your buck?
Some of these guilds offer minimal return for the annual investment. Instead they offer a conference or gathering for members where you have to pay an additional fee with the membership just offering a discount. That could be potentially worth it to you if you feel the conference is enough- just make sure the annual fee is not substantial.
I, personally, have found the most value in the organizations that offer free webinars and content as part of their membership. I love the idea of conferences, but they’re expensive to attend and honestly, they get repetitive. But, content I can peruse at my leisure at home, or webinars I can attend in my pajamas fit my lifestyle. I also appreciate when these are included in my membership dues and there are no extra fees.
In addition to education, I have also found the most value in the organizations that offer partnerships and discounts with publishing and marketing providers. As a self-published author, this is invaluable because those expenses add up fast. So discounts and vetted sources and ideas for marketing are appreciated.
I hope this gives you ideas to consider when researching author guilds and organizations. If you have further questions on this topic, feel free to reach out in either the comments below or by email at email@example.com.
Author Guilds/ Support Organizations I recommend:
SCBWI for children’s book and YA creators
IBPA for self-published authors
ALLi for self-published authors- although this is less necessary if you’re a SCBWI member because they’ve teamed up and offered partnership incentives
Are you a member of a writer’s guild? Which ones have you found most beneficial?